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Homebuilders tapping into ageing baby-boomer market

As the population of over 55s continues to rise, firms that specialise in building homes are changing the way they do business.Barratt Developments - Britain's biggest housebuilder - has revealed plans to make the most of the growing baby-boomer market by downsizing the house designs that it uses.Instead of four-bedroom homes that are normally aimed at families and first-time buyers, the company intends to provide properties with a bigger master suite and a couple of smaller rooms that could be used as bedrooms or studies, The Financial Times reports.With plans to build about 14,000 of the new homes every year - under the David Wilson Homes brand - Barratt is the first among the major UK builders to tap into the older generation. This is something that has previously been considered a speciality market.However, even the specialist companies are looking for ways to enhance their offering to the aging population. McCarthy & Stone, for example, has announced a new lifestyle division that will be targeting people who no longer need or want large homes.Mark Clare, Barratt chief executive, indicated that the older generation is less likely to be constrained by a mortgage. "But if they thought for one minute you were trying to sell them retirement housing, they would run a mile."They are not aged and infirm, they're lightly to be fit and active," he adds.The new Barratt homes are not just designed to be ideal for an older couple - they are also situated in locations - mainly picturesque villages - that will appeal to more mature buyers.Home ownership in the UK is already dominated by older people. According to the Office for National Statistics, three-quarters of people aged 60 and over own their own home. However, only one-third of 25 to 34-year-olds are homeowners.In addition, the number of people aged over 60 is expected to double in the UK in the next 20 years - rising to 21 million. Meanwhile, it is estimated that the younger generation will only grow by five per cent. 

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